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the dilemma of Ukrainian power

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After a dam quickly passed, the first kilometers of the M14 motorway, which connects Mykolaiv, the lock protecting access to Odessa, to Kherson, the only Ukrainian city passed under Russian control, leave little room for doubt. This piece of Ukrainian territory removed by the soldiers from Moscow from the sovereignty of the country is only 70 kilometers from Mykolaiv but the space between the two cities constitutes a world in itself, halfway between the front line and no man’s land. The villages that are there fear at any moment that the fire of arms will fall on them. While the Ukrainian forces in the region have pushed back the Russian army towards Kherson, the question of the recapture of the city does not seem obvious.

First of all, Kherson is not totally cut off from the world. People come out, even if it’s in very small numbers. They don’t use the ex-fast lane. They have to find their way along the small roads, passing from village to village where they sometimes come across the traces of combat. The highway is too exposed to fire and often blocked by anti-tank defenses. According to Andrii Skorokhod, head of the Red Cross in Mykolaiv, “Twenty to thirty people from Kherson, often in private cars, are arriving at our premises these days. But not everyone who leaves the city necessarily comes to us”.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In the liberated Ukrainian villages between Mykolaiv and Kherson: “We don’t talk about the war, you have to live it to understand”

From now on, it takes, on average, eighteen hours to reach Mykolaiv, according to all the testimonies of Kherson residents collected by the Red Cross. “The Russians are increasing the vexatious measures to maintain fear, says 26-year-old Mikhail D., who traveled in the opposite direction on March 27 with two other people to join his family in Kherson. They block people and then let them go. » There is a lottery part. The Russians play with the nerves of the inhabitants who want to leave by multiplying the very tight checks at the roadblocks. “They search the phones, details Mikhail, check if tattoos are not in the glory of Ukraine and take the time to inspect social networks to see if we are active. »

An uncertainty that acts as a blockade

According to him, the Russians managed to install in the minds of the people in Kherson ” that getting out was a matter of luck and that shots could ring out at any moment”. An uncertainty that acts like a blockade that does not say its name. “We can move around the city, but it is accepted by everyone that it is at our own risk”, confirms Mikhail. A share of concern that the Russians are careful not to dissipate.

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